A series of lectures and workshops will examine how to prevent and respond to gender violence on college campuses, during the University of Rochester's Call to Action: Creating and Maintaining Safe Campuses, conference on Wednesday, April 2 and Thursday, April 3, at Staybridge Suites (1000 Genesee Street).
"Gender violence, including sexual harassment and assault, interpersonal violence and stalking, are issues that are unfortunately still present in many of our communities," said Morgan Levy, director of equal opportunity compliance and Title IX coordinator. "In the University setting, we have a unique opportunity to pull together practitioners, researchers, activists, and students who are passionate about these issues to discuss the implementation of strategies to stop the violence."
Rochester junior Emily Sumner, president and cofounder of UR SEGway, a student-run organization that educates and raises awareness about sexual violence, says having a wide array of experts, administrators, and students at the conference is an important step in addressing gender violence. "The conference demonstrates to the students that the University recognizes that this is an issue on our campus, and it serves as the perfect platform to get important conversations going about how to combat sexual assault," she explained.
On Thursday, April 3, the day-long event will feature opening remarks from University President Joel Seligman. The morning also includes a keynote address from attorney Colby Bruno, who has spent more than a decade representing victims of rape and sexual assault. A national expert in the legal rights of campus rape and sexual assault victims, Bruno trains colleges and universities on the implementation of Title IX.
During lunch, participants will hear from Katie Koestner, founder of the Take Back The Night Foundation, an international organization that encourages women to "take back their voices" by speaking out against all forms of sexual assault or domestic and dating violence. At the age of 18, Koestner was the first woman to speak out nationally and publicly about date rape and has since lectured at more than 2,000 schools in North America. The University of Rochester's College Feminists held their own Take Back The Night event in October 2013, which included a speaker, a walking vigil in peaceful protest of sexual violence and rape culture, and a survivor speak-out at Boulder Coffee.
Throughout the conference, workshops will explore campus responses to gender violence and cyber-related sexual misconduct. The program also addresses how to engage men and boys in the discussion of sexual assault, among other topics. Exploring Advocacy through Art-Making, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Genrich-Rusling Room at LaChase Hall on the University's River Campus, features local artist and activist Lydia Billings, whose project, Trigger Warnings, is a photographic representation of survivors of sexual assault. For a full list of events, visit the conference website.